Strategic Directions Discussion Paper

 

 Non-ferrous Metals Consultative Forum on Sustainable Development

Strategic Directions Discussion Paper

 1 October, 2001

 Introduction

  1. The member countries of the three international metal study groups, ICSG, ILZSG and INSG are trying to ensure that the contribution non-ferrous metals make to Sustainable Development is recognised and that the benefits they provide today for a better quality of life for all are available for future generations. The overall "vision" for this Study Group initiative is set out in their statement on the Contribution Non-Ferrous Metals make to SD. It states that to ensure that future generations benefit from non-ferrous metals, their production, use, recycling and disposal must be consistent with principles of sustainable development. Member countries realise that this "vision" will only be achieved by engaging all stakeholders with an interest - industry (producing and consuming), governments (industry and regulatory departments), governmental organisations and non-governmental (environmental, social, consumer) and moving forward constructively together.
  2. To do this the Non-Ferrous Metals Consultative Forum on Sustainable Development was convened in Brussels in September 2000 to take forward the outcome of the London Workshop by discussing and developing components of an action plan and the way these components could be implemented. It was recognised that the most successful actions would be those supported by most participants. Reflecting the strong desire of the Forum participants to achieve visible and rapid progress, three ad-hoc working groups were established to consider the Forum recommendations and to act on those of common interest. The six areas identified in the Brussels Meeting for the Action Plan are:
    • Stewardship programmes
    • Community consultation and involvement
    • Promotion of recycling
    • Research and development
    • Open and transparent mechanisms to improve communication
    • Information development and dissemination for decision making.

 Rationale for a Clear Path Forward

  1. Unlike many other initiatives and forums dealing with sustainable development, the Consultative Forum is currently the only multi-stakeholder process to address issues related to non-ferrous metals led by governments with an interest, either as producers or users, in ores, concentrates, metals and metal containing products. Industry and NGOs have played an important part in the process as stakeholders and as partners. It is the only forum that is covering issues from the entire life cycle of metals in the context of sustainable development and working to promote a better understanding of the contribution that metals can make to society as a whole.
  2. To date, the Consultative Forum and related activities of the ad-hoc Working Groups have been well attended and by all accounts highly successful at initiating the work required to develop an appropriate action plan. Participants have expressed their strong interest in the on-going activities of the Forum and the Working Groups and their willingness to continue to participate, as long as they see tangible progress and value in the exercise. However, many of the participants are asking the question: where does all of this lead; how will the Action Plan be implemented and by whom?
  3. A clear path forward needs to be established such that Forum members have a sense as to where this process is leading and are comfortable with the general direction. No one solution will necessarily fit all of the issues that are raised, address all concerns, or be relevant to all parties. It must also be recognised that solutions applicable for one industry or region may not be appropriate for another. A combination of factors might need to be considered to develop appropriate solutions. What is clear from the discussions to date is the level of enthusiam for the process as demonstrated by the active participation of governments, industry and non-governmental organisations. To maintain momentum it will be important for all stakeholders to find an appropriate level of response to the recommendations that emerge in the Action Plan that results from the Forum process. Therefore the overall objective is to:
    • Generate awareness of the Forum's recommendations on Sustainable Development Drivers, Community Involvement in non-ferrous metals projects, Product Stewardship concepts, Communication issues, principles relating to Risk Assessments, Life Cycle Analysis, Science and Research Networks and generate awareness also of the role of the metals Study Groups.
    • Gain acceptance and uptake of the Forum recommendations described above by the relevant stakeholders, including governments, industry and the community 
  1. So what is the best way forward to implement the Action Plan, deliver on the key six areas, and ensure that the process continues and is successful in achieving desired outcomes? Some possible approaches include:

1) Activities to improve the profile of the Non-Ferrous Metals Consultative Forum on Sustainable Development in member governments of the three Study Groups resulting in national recognition of the of the contribution non-ferrous metals make to Sustainable Development

2) Intensified engagement with the international non-ferrous metals industry resulting in voluntary commitment to Sustainable Development Principles developed through the Forum process..

3) An extension of the links that have been built with other stakeholders, particularly those from the Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) leading to NGO endorsement of, for example, the Product Stewardship concepts elaborated by the Forum.

4) Promotion of the Non-Ferrous Metals Consultative Forum on Sustainable Development more widely with appropriate international bodies for example within the United Nations system, and securing backing for its outcomes and a global platform for change.

  1. These approaches should not be seen as alternatives but rather as part of a 'menu' of possible approaches to take the Forum's work forward. These approaches are developed further in the Annex.

     Conclusion

  2. For participants to maintain their level of participation and commitment to the process, it is clear that the member countries of the Study Groups need to have some idea how to take the recommendations and action plans that require some form of political support forward. Clearly there will be some activities that the Study groups can do themselves either as an individual group or collectively, for example, in the area of improved recycling statistics or by organising joint workshops or conferences on selected topics for further discussion. Industry, for example, could choose to adopt recommendations (on a voluntary basis) related to best practices in community consultations. This could be done either by individual companies, or by adoption through an association of companies. Some recommendations, however, may require more formal approaches to ensure that they are promoted within governments and industry.
  3. The current Forum process is highly successful at the working level but would benefit from participation of senior government officials (including Ministers) to raise the profile of the activity within governments. This issue is of more concern to some Study Group member countries than others. This lack of profile within governments translates into a lack of profile with government officials seeking to find sustainable development solutions for broader issues at the global level in other forums. A meeting of between Forum representatives and the UNCSD has already begun the task of raising the profile of the initiative, and the work of the Study Groups themselves.
  4. Securing the engagement of the global non-ferrous metals industry is attractive in its simplicity and confers more stature than either part of the industry or some governments going it alone. It also provides the foundation for commanding sufficient attention to achieve the "vision" the Forum process is seeking. 
  5. The options suggested would provide routes to implement the Action Plan that emerges from the work of the Forum. Indeed a clear implementation plan is needed to ensure the Working Groups continue to command the support and commitment required to complete their work. It is important also that the profile of the Study Groups is enhanced by the Forum process through greater recognition of their important role, not only in the area of market transparency and policy development, but also in the sustainable development field.

 

 


Annex

1) Improve the Profile of the Consultative Forum in Member Governments of the Study Groups

The ad-hoc Forum would continue to operate as a multi-stakeholder forum, working on issues relevant to the contribution metals make towards sustainable development until the Forum members consider its work complete. The outcomes of working groups, workshops or other meetings would be promoted intensively across member governments - including departments that are not normally represented at Study Group meetings.

Study Group members could continue to work through the Forum process to address those issues related to non-ferrous metals that are common to all three Groups, commission special studies, either as joint activities or on an individual basis.

Where certain issues require a collective response, the Forum could recommend that members make representation to the appropriate organisations through their respective government channels, either at the United Nations or other intergovernmental organisations like, for example, the OECD or APEC. Individual Study Group member may also choose, through their own domestic legislative process, to introduce policies that would be consistent with the recommendations of the Forum on a voluntary basis.

Member countries would also have the option of organising a high level meeting (possibly up to ministerial level) from Study Group countries to review the Action Plan from the Forum, as well as progress in its implementation and future work. Such a meeting could consider a process whereby a culture of sustainable development could be fostered within member countries with regard to non-ferrous metals. It could also consider various means of enhancing international co-operation and the open exchange of information on policies, databases and best practices within a sustainable development context.

Key Features:

 

  • Would maintain the dialogue already underway without risk of losing governments concerned about the implementation of Forum recommendations becoming binding obligations;
  • Simple and easy to establish - avoiding additional bureaucracy;
  • Uses existing mechanisms and funding through the Study Groups;
  • Provides a means of promoting dialogue between senior officials of member governments and could raise awareness of non-ferrous metals issues nationally;
  • Would provide Forum support for any industry Action Plan;
  • The Study Group members and stakeholders maintain control of the issues and timing
  • A high level meeting would demonstrate a political commitment on the part of Study Group members, if they wish, to take the Forum's recommendations forward within their respective jurisdictions, and would help to raise the profile of the non-ferrous metals sector with senior government officials
  • Increase the profile of the Study Groups within member governments. 

2. Intensify engagement with the global Non-ferrous Metals Industry

The Forum would continue to operate as an ad-hoc multi stakeholder forum, working on issues relevant to the contribution metals make towards sustainable development, until the Forum members consider that its work is complete. The outcomes of working groups, workshops or other meetings would be made available to industry. These would then form the basis for voluntary Sustainable Development action plans by Industry

Industry could also continue to maintain open and transparent dialogue with member governments, multilateral institutions and non-governmental organisations in the formal setting provided by the Forum.

Key Features:

  • If presented in the right way and with sufficient financial backing, a voluntary action plan could raise the profile of non-ferrous metals with the public;
  • Industry is free to engage if and when it wants to;
  • No pressure on industry from governments;
  • Would demonstrate industry's commitment to take the Forum's recommendations forward;
  • Fits well with growing international emphasis encouraging self-regulation as opposed to state intervention, where possible;
  • Would need government/ NGO 'buy in' to generate political credibility and possibly commitment and multi-stakeholder support. 
  1. Extend links with Non Governmental Organisations

The Forum would continue to operate as an ad-hoc multi-stakeholder forum, working on issues relevant to the contribution metals make towards sustainable development and providing a framework for Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to contribute their aspirations for Sustainable Development to the Forum's established process.

 Key Features:

  • Secures active participation from across all interested parties of civil society in the Forum process and enhances its legitimacy;
  • Promotes the idea that non-ferrous metals have value as sustainable commodities within the NGO community;
  • Raises the profile of the Forum and the Study Groups with NGOs;
  • Provides NGO's with a channel to connect through to other international/intergovernmental forums via Forum participants drawn from these entities;
  • Allows NGOs active participation in the elaboration of product stewardship schemes for non-ferrous metals;
  • Would need government and industry 'buy in' to achieve greatest effectiveness. 
  1. Promote the Concept of the Consultative Forum more widely with appropriate bodies, for example within the UN System

Efforts would be made to promote awareness, and desirably endorsement, of the recommendations of the Forum work programme by relevant international bodies, for example the UN. A possible approach to this, using the UN as an example, could be to have the UN sponsor a meeting the Forum which would formally support the Action Plan being proposed and recommend that UN member countries should in turn support it and encourage companies to embrace the underlying principles. Such a one off meeting might be held in the Rio +10 year but more likely to be just after unless Study Group member countries press UNCSD to have one through their country representatives at the Johannesburg summit preparation meetings. The concept of governments and industry agreeing to a set of shared principles and commitments is very much in line with Kofi Annanís Global Compact and South Africaís "New Pact". Such a recommendation from the UN would need to be considered by individual governments rather than individual government departments in any one country thus making acceptance more embracing as an integral part of that governmentís policy.

Key Features:

  • Would demonstrate a global recognition of the important contribution mining and metals make to society;
  • Would attach recognition to the Product Stewardship Scheme being developed by the Forum increasing market profile;
  • Would embrace a broad range of nation states including developing countries and those outside Study Group membership;
  • Would raise profile of the three Study Groups within UN structure and secure their positions as the providers of relevant market information, statistics and special studies related to non-ferrous metals and sustainable development;
  • Fits well with current UN thinking on Sustainable Development;
  • Would secure influence of Study Group initiative in the discussions taking place in other multilateral forums related to mining and metals issues in the context of sustainable development;
  • Would raise the profile of the non-ferrous metals industry nationally and facilitate consensus policy development on non-ferrous metals related issues between various government departments at the national level;
  • Would enhance the credibility and standing of the initiative particularly with non-government organisations and local communities;
  • Could attract UN funding for special projects.
 
 
 
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